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Shell, Eni knew of corruption in Nigeria’s OPL 245 deal: judge

by Erika Green

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European oil majors Shell and Eni reportedly knew of the corruption ongoing during their OPL 245 acquisition in Nigeria, a case in which they are being tried in Milan and could also respond to in a London court.

Reuters reported Monday Milan judge Giusy Barbara said “the management of oil companies Eni and Shell … were fully aware of the fact that part of the $1.092 billion paid would have been used to compensate Nigerian public officials who had a role in this matter and who were circling their prey like hungry sharks.”

The comment was made in September, when she sentenced Nigerian Emeka Obi and Italian Gianluca di Nardo to four years for corruption. They were middlemen in the OPL 245 deal in 2011, and were tried separately from Eni and Shell, Kallanish Energy notes.

The oil majors’ case trial has been dragging on in the Italian court for months, with both denying any wrongdoing or knowledge the money paid for the offshore asset was diverted to government officials.

Last week, the Nigerian government filed a $1.1 billion lawsuit in London against the companies concerning their acquisition. It claims the majors paid monies through a company controlled by former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete, with knowledge funds would then be used for bribes and kickbacks.

Eni said it would analyze the contents of the judge’s remarks, but full facts and evidence would emerge only from the main trial. Shell said there is no basis to convict the company or any of its former staff of alleged offences related to the deal, noting that neither Obi nor Di Nardo had worked for Shell.

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